You may be familiar with the following scenario: After careful research, you purchase a new toy for your dog. You tell yourself that this time, things will be different. The toy looks strong, fashioned out of rubber or rugged canvas. With a big, excited smile, you present the toy to your dog. Your dog goes wild for the novelty. For a few minutes (or seconds), you play together with your new toy, happy to have finally found something that will survive.
And that’s when you notice the room is filled with stuffing, or little bits of rubber, or you see that strong-looking seam split cleanly with a loud snap. Your dog tries to keep playing, but the new toy has become a choking hazard, so you gently collect its mangled body and, defeated, you toss it in the trash.
This happens in our house all the time. Ace loves squeaky, squishy, furry toys –- and she also loves to tug, shake, and gnaw through them like it’s her job (which, now that we’re reviewing toys for Dogster, is kind of true).
So you can imagine my reservations when I opened a box from Fluff & Tuff, a company that produces a line of dog toys they describe as both “plush” and “durable,” which in my experience is an oxymoron. I requested samples from Fluff & Tuff on a tip from a Dogster reader, who described her Fluff & Tuff toy as “a miracle.”
Looking into that box of toys, my heart sank: They were beautiful, much too beautiful to toss to the dooming jaws of Ace. Each toy ranged from plush to fuzzy, and all were super soft to the touch. Honestly, they appeared better suited for some lucky child than for my slobbery maniac dog, who, I was sure, would quickly turn this box of soft stuffies into a pile of sticky stuffing.
My first clue that these toys might survive the impending massacre was a little square mesh sample attached to the tag on each toy. This mesh lines each dog toy to make it more durable. I stretched and tore at the square of mesh and found it surprisingly strong.
Fluff & Tuff boasts other unique details, including double stitched seams, nontoxic stuffing, and a durable squeaker. Impressive sounding, but I’ve been hurt before –- all that’s just talk if the toy rips during the first game of tug.
Fluff & Tuff toys are shaped like (completely adorable) animals and come in sizes small (like Savannah the Baby Gator, $14.95, 8 inches long) to extra large (like Sadie the Bear, $26.95, 20 inches long). Ace and I sampled a variety of shapes and sizes.
I found that Ace preferred the toys that were furry as opposed to plush, and that had lots of different parts to tug and bite on instead of the more streamlined or rounded toys. Her favorite was Rocket the Raccoon ($19.95), which at 12 inches long is considered a large toy. I cringed as I handed her this soft, beautiful toy. Another favorite was Peanut the Chipmunk ($14.95), a small toy that is 8 inches long and includes a furry little tail.
I’ve observed that many of Ace’s toys die in one of two ways: They rip apart while we are playing tug, or she finds a weak spot on the toy and just chews at it until its guts spill out. I was scared for Rocket because he was so fun to tug, and also because he has these cute little ears that seem irresistible for some intense chewing.
In the name of writing a useful review, I put my affection for Rocket aside and decided to play really rough with him. Ace and I tugged, shook, chewed, and generally abused Rocket regularly over the course of the past week. We played with the other toys intermittently as well, though Rocket took the brunt of Ace’s playtime energy. It is important to note that I never leave Ace alone with her toys, which reduces the chance that she will chew and chew until the toy breaks.
I’m thrilled to report that, aside from one minor casualty, these toys held up remarkably well over the course of a week. One of the squeakers died, silencing Truman the Owl ($16.95), a medium-sized toy at 9 inches long (I think Ace was intimidated by Truman’s wide stare, which is eerily similar to hers).
And what of Rocket Raccoon? Well, Rocket’s once-fluffy fur coat is now matted with a thick and sticky layer of dog slobber, but otherwise he is remarkably intact. His tail has not ripped at all despite my hanging on for dear life while Ace wrapped her jaws around his waist and tugged furiously. I think a trip through the washer will spruce him up nicely for the next battle. Yes, I said it –- I think this toy will survive for many future rounds of tug.
Dogster Scorecard for Fluff & Tuff toys:
- Quality: These toys are pretty enough to give to a spoiled child –- or your spoiled dog.
- Style: Plush, durable, and adorable.
- Function: While one of the toys’ squeakers succumbed to Ace’s biting, these strong toys survived a week of play without tearing.
- Creativity: Fluff & Tuff has managed to craft a toy that is strong yet has serious visual and tactile appeal.
- Value: Toys range in price from $9 to $26.95 depending on size –- given how durable these toys are, the prices are a steal.
Chewers, tuggers, and maulers of all sizes, do not abandon hope that a stuffed toy can survive playtime until you get your jaws on a Fluff & Tuff.
Okay, let’s have it: Dogster readers, please share your experiences with Fluff & Tuff, as well as other suggestions for durable stuffed toys, in the comments!
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